leave them feeling like they belong
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It took Lionel Messi two seconds to work out what was going on, Pablo Maffeo says, and not very much longer for him to say sorry; he was just doing what he’d been told to do. It was September, FC Barcelona’s first ever visit to Montilivi in primera, and it wasn’t a whole lot of fun for either of them. Everywhere Messi went, Maffeo went too. There was no getting rid of him, so Messi wandered about, mostly staying out the way, and struck up conversation. He asked how old he was – 20 – and whether he’d come from Man City – yes, he had – until eventually the Girona wing-back Authentic Kurt Coleman Jersey was withdrawn. http://www.authenticyankeesstore.com/Authentic-Aaron-Hicks-Jersey As Maffeo sat on the bench, cameras caught him talking to team-mates, a grin appearing on his face. “You know what he said?” he smiled. “‘Playing like this http://www.footballchiefsofficial.com/WOMENS_YOUTH_ALEX_SMITH_JERSEY.html is shit’.” Limited Youth Tommylee Lewis Black Jersey: NFL Nike New Orleans Saints #11 2016 Salute to Service Well, there’s a first Everson Griffen Womens Jersey time for everything. And there’s a last time, too. After the game – which Girona lost 3-0 but in which Messi, already on nine league goals just six weeks into the season, hadn’t scored – Maffeo’s parents were approached outside the ground, their boy suddenly famous. “The most important thing is that they Trai Turner Authentic Jersey made friends,” his mum said. What, his dad was asked, did you make of your son following Messi round everywhere? The response was rapid. “And what makes you think it wasn’t Messi following him,” he replied. Nike NFL Steve Bartkowski White Jersey Men's Limited: #10 Atlanta Falcons Road Vapor Untouchable Mr Maffeo smiled, mischief in his words, but this weekend again showed that it wasn’t so silly. Not just man-marking Messi – on Sunday night, the Argentinian left Betis in bits – but what he said. They might never have been in the first division before, but following is not really what Girona do; more often, it’s what others do to them. Right now, 11 teams follow them in the table, and out on the pitch, many more have – including two of the biggest of them all. Girona coach Pablo Machín began as youth coach at Numancia 17 years ago, moving to the B team and then the first team as assistant before taking over in 2011, heading to Girona in 2014. He has long believed in a 3-5-2 formation that http://www.officialnhlhockeyonline.com/TORONTO_MAPLE_LEAFS-c-1087_1122.html seemed forgotten, but which he called a “badge of identity” http://www.chargersofficialfootballshop.com/Nike-Tre-Boston-Jersey.html and which, perhaps precisely because it is so out of step with what everyone else was doing, has proven startlingly problematic for opponents. Ereck Flowers Authentic Jersey So much so that they have worn that badge too. His team overrun, Zinedine Zidane tried to copy Girona in the second half of their meeting in week 10; his team overrun in week one, Diego Simeone, forewarned, tried it too this Saturday. It didn’t work for either of them. Back then, Girona defeated Real Madrid; now Girona went to the Wanda for the first time and became the fourth team to get a point there – with Barcelona, Madrid and Villarreal – when Portu scored an equaliser 15 minutes from the end. But it wasn’t just that Girona had got a point; it was how they did it and how often they have done it. It was that Atlético, like Madrid, took the threat from a side that had ever been here before so seriously as to emulate them, shifting formation; that they had only one shot more than the visitors; and that at 1-1, Michael Olunga, the Kenyan striker and geospatial engineer who the week before had scored a debut hat-trick, taking a congratulatory call from the president post-game, might have got the winner only for Jan Oblak to race out of his box and send him flying. It was that while some criticised Simeone for withdrawing Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann and trying to protect his team, Machín rightly insisted “the players he brought on [Koke, Gameiro, Vitolo] aren’t exactly cripples: they’d be starters at three-quarters of the teams in the league”, and it was that it was the second time Girona had faced Atlético and emerged unbeaten – the first time, on the opening night, they probably should have won. And it was that nobody has a better record against the Madrid sides and that they alone had scored two against Atlético. At the end of the game, the players stood and applauded their fans, history made. “This is a point that feels like a victory,” Portu said. “To be behind at a stadium like this against a team that rarely lets in goals and play so well is very important.” As for Machín, he insisted: “This is a point that gives us great prestige because few teams are going to come here and get anything. We’re novices but we score in almost every game (they have failed to score just four times in 20 matches) and the impression we left was a good one.” The impression they have left all season has been, and the point doesn’t just give them prestige, it might give them a new objective. At the start of the season Machín insisted: “I want to survive, any way we can”. As the second half of the season starts, Girona are a point off seventh – which, given the teams in the Copa del Rey quarters, is likely to be a European position. Survival was their only aim and now there is an eight-team, 11-point buffer zone between them and the relegation zone. Cristhian Stuani returned to Spain from Middlesbrough where he scored 11 in two seasons and is one short of that total already, with only Messi, Luis Suárez and Iago Aspas having scored more. Portu, the goalscorer, had never played in the first division before; not one Real Madrid player has as many as him. cheap nfl jerseys free shipping nhl jerseys china cheap jerseys from china nike nfl jerseys from china mlb jerseys china new nike nfl jerseys jerseys from china nba jerseys cheap
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